I have been buried alive for the past 23 years of my life inside these prison walls. That time has been full of trials and tribulations, such as the death of my father (R.I.P.), my grandmother, and sister, as well as friends I made here who became my family and who were executed. My beloved brother William Hasan Jones (R.I.P.) who I loved as a Muslim and convict. Brothers Samuel, Insane Zane, Joe Bates, and the many brothers who have sacrificed and lost the fight to get this death row overturned.
The fight is not just with the courts, the fight is also with one’s self. We have to take this time, in most cases many years, to ponder our past and reflect on our futures. Some of us are going to be blessed to get off death row, and some of us are going to be executed. Either way, it’s going to be accountability. When you re-enter society you will be judged first from your past and then based on how you are living. In this case, you have a chance to show that you redeemed yourself and are ready to live a productive life and help society. In the second scenario, when you go before your Creator, you are being judged for the time you were allotted on this earth, no returns, no do-overs, etc. All you will have with you is your deeds (good or bad)—that’s why it is important how we manage our time, our lives.
It is written that every human being has the right to pursue happiness. Does this right stop because you are confined? We should continue to strive for happiness and peace, and the first place this has to be established is within. I want a healthy relationship with myself, with my family, and most importantly with my Creator.
This journey to obtain inner peace is a constant battle. Every day presents something new. We must really examine our lives and make the right choices. As a Muslim, I have to keep my armor with me daily. I’m not talking about a knife or razor. I’m talking about asking God for His protection and guidance. I try to shield my shortcomings, and I try to unwind in the evening by reflecting on how I managed my day. This is how I work on myself.
I also try to build with family. I must admit this has been one of my greatest challenges. As Muslims, we cannot cut family ties. When I was growing up, my mother, grandmother, and oldest brother showed me the beauty of family. I miss my family dearly, even those who don’t write or visit. It’s hard to reflect on all of the things you have been through with your loved ones when they can just forget about you. If it wasn’t for the things I mentioned earlier, I would just stop praying for them, stop writing them, take them of my visit list.
But I will never give up. You must fight for what you love. I often read the story of Joseph (Yusef): His brothers wanted to kill him and they threw him down a well. But God established him in the kingdom and brought his family back and gave them many blessings. The moral is: don’t ever give up. You never know what blessings are in store for you. I would like to share two of the blessings before closing.
During the many executions I have witnessed, I have seen men, women, and children outside of the prison, in all kinds of weather. They never selected one inmate to do this for, and 97 percent of those out there don’t know the inmate or the family. But they’re out there because they care on a humane level. What they don’t realize is they’re not only supporting the one about to be executed, but all of us who are looking through our chambers (windows); it helps us know we are not going through this alone. People do care and the fight continues.
Another blessing I’ve received is pen pals. I want to send a warm shout-out to the many pen pals who hold us down. In so many of our lives, they are our lifelines. I have been blessed to meet a wonderful family, and they make me feel like I was a buried treasure. They truly bring out the best in me, and I’m thankful for the blessings they bring to my life and others.
I pray I have shared something of value in these pages
by William Bowie